How Can I be Saved?
God Wants you in heaven
Seeking the salvation of our souls is our most important endeavor.
Sadly most don’t understand the challenges we face with accepting Jesus’ saving grace, so we do nothing to strive to obtain it and have no concern with our salvation. Yet, as the great apostle Paul warns us, we must:
“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).
Salvation through faith alone…yes, but….
The different Christian faiths sometimes like to argue whether salvation is through faith alone. The answer is yes. Salvation is through faith alone in God…but it is through TRUE faith in God. Anything else rejects God’s saving mercy.
Belief in God varies from a slight faith (some love) into a true saving faith (true love) and even into perfect faith (perfect love). Therefore salvation is through true faith in God alone, not just some belief in Jesus.
We need grow in faith to come to believe so greatly that Jesus is the Son of God and desire to follow Him so well–knowing that He is the Way to Heaven–that we will be willing to change our entire lives so to follow Him (obey Him) correctly.
After we obtain God’s helping (actual) grace to have such a belief, we will have grown in contrition (sorrow) for our sins too, so we no longer just have some sorrow but true contrition for all our sins so we can accept–not reject–God’s saving mercy that He died to give us.
To get to this kind of saving/true faith takes much work.
“Nobody can be ready for the next life unless he trains himself for it now.”
–St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church
This race for the Crown of Life we are running against the devil is hard.
How do we train ourselves for the next life? How do we advance in faith correctly so to win the crown and go from some faith in Christ into having TRUE belief…a belief that can accept God’s saving forgiving mercy?
God clearly told St. Bridget of Sweden what is required for anyone who desires to grow in faith to obtain Life.
“Anyone converted from evil ways who observes and keeps these ten counsels will die away from love of the world and become alive to the love of God.” And these counsels are:
- “The first is to believe in the ten commandments [enough to live them] that I gave to the people of Israel.
- The second is to receive and venerate the sacraments of my church.
- The third is to feel [true] sorrow for past sins and to have the perfect intention of no longer committing them.
- The fourth is to obey my friends [those who found The Way/those united with Christ–especially the saints] as often as they tell the convert [those who seek a saving faith] to do something that goes against his own will.
- The fifth is to despise all his base habits that go against God and good morals [despise them enough to amend them].
- The sixth is to have the desire of bringing as many people as possible to God [work to save souls].
- The seventh is to display true humility in his actions, avoiding giving bad example.
- The eighth is to have patience in adversity and not to complain about God’s decisions [trust in God with all He allows].
- The ninth is not to listen to or keep company with those who set themselves against the holy Christian faith.
- The tenth is to ask God for the strength to persevere in love [living the faith] and to make a personal effort to do so.”
If we want to be with God’s little flock of the saved, we need to obey God and follow the above guidance so we don’t have to fear death and can have real trust in God’s helping grace move us into a saving faith.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”(Luke 12:32).
Lets look carefully at these ten counsels from God:
- Believe in the ten commandments: the entire Word is a culmination of the ten commandments, but again what kind of belief is God looking for, just lip service, or are we supposed to believe enough to strive with our whole heart to live every command–the entire Word? The belief God that saves requires of us to have a TRUE belief in His commands, not just in our thoughts or words but most importantly in our actions. Therefore, we must grow in faith to believe so greatly that if we follow Jesus, by obeying His commands (becoming like Him), we will grow in love and contrition so to accept His saving mercy.
Area we really “converting from our evil ways?” How many of us are truly working daily to follow Christ: to stop sinning, to love our crosses, and to run from the pleasures of the world so to live for God’s will and not our own? We must be honest with ourselves…if we don’t want to see our guilt, we will die guilty, presuming we are saved, from our good works, when we are rejecting God’s saving mercy, which really saves.
Remember, “for the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (St. Matthew 7:13-14). Sadly, we simply aren’t truly working to live the real faith. How many of us just repeat our sinful behaviors over and over again from a lack of sincere effort to change nor a wholehearted effort to seek God’s grace to change? How many of us complain, worry or become angry when something goes wrong instead of loving our crosses? How many of us long for a better life, more: stuff, friends, comfort, looks, money, or better: food, sex, vacations, spouse, kids, job, success, etc? Are we truly content with what God has allowed and given us? Do we look for the cross or do we look for a better worldly life and desire pleasure instead? “If anyone wishes to come after me [to Heaven], he must [intentionally] deny himself [of worldly pleasure] and take up his cross daily [willingly suffer carrying our cross with Christ] and follow me [truly live the Word]” (Luke 9:23). Are we really living the faith? We want to die saved, but we don’t want to live the faith that saves–love of the cross. But choosing that life of desiring worldly pleasure rejects God’s saving mercy. If we aren’t striving to live the complete faith, we are still stuck loving some of our sins. We must ask ourselves, are we really loving God by all of our actions? Are we really striving to live the real Word with fervent effort or are we complacent with our life–with our sins? How can we say we truly love God and are sorry for our sins, if we aren’t even sincerely striving to stop all of our crimes against God—even the seemingly little ones. If we aren’t truly working to live the real Word? We can’t really love God…not with a saving love.
“All who will themselves from hell by truly repenting their sins, by voluntarily conforming themselves to the divine will, and by loving God himself with all their heart, will obtain his grace [sanctifying grace].”
–Blessed Virgin to St. Bridget of Sweden
How can I have saving faith?
As the Blessed Mother told St. Bridget in order to have a saving faith, we need to want a saving faith. I mean really want it. Without a true thirst for salvation once a challenge or hurdle comes along as we strive to hate all of our sins, we will quit striving for this horribly challenging goal which is full of pains and humiliations of all sorts. We must learn how to let go of seeking our will and make our will what ever God wills as we seek to love Him with all of our heart.
As saving faith is as the Mother of God states. It is someone who truly repents of their sins and seeks to sin no more (live according to God’s will) because they love God with all of their heart and don’t want to offend Him any more. To obtain this kind of faith, God provides us with all that is necessary to obtain eternal happiness…all we need to do is accept it. But accepting God’s sanctifying grace, for us humans with the inclination to sin, is quite hard. Without perseverance and a willingness to suffer, it isn’t possible to obtain the goal of Eternal Life.
“In order to have desire to mount the steps [towards Heaven], you must have thirst” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Sienna) so we will be willing to do what is necessary to correctly follow Christ to obtain it. Now, this won’t be easy…seeking salvation isn’t for the lazy or timid. If we are burdened with those sins, we need to seek God’s mercy to rid them from our lives or successfully climbing the to the Mount won’t be possible.
We have to work like an athlete with much bravery to obtain the crown of Life. That doesn’t mean we need to be athletic, but we do have to do our absolute best like an athlete striving for the gold taking risks for God. We will need to “flee from the world, love solitude, and give ourselves to prayer” as St. Joseph Casfasso instructs us. But tragically so many think this just ins’t necessary and will never obtain a saving faith. There is no other way to have real hope in God’s mercy to save us, unless we honestly peruse it being willing to loose everything to gain everything.
How do Olympians seek the gold? They work hard…as hard as they can and give 110%. They seek out every avenue to motivate and train to improve and grow towards perfection in their sport. We need to do the same. Doing this without a coach is very hard and perhaps even seemingly impossible at times. How could someone win the Olympics without a coach helping, supporting, motivating and guiding them along the way? Surely our laziness and/or our one-sided judgement would fail. We are only so strong and only so wise alone. How much better we would perform if we had someone to be accountable to, to motivate, and help us discern?
It would be great if we could only be accountable to God alone and that would be enough to motivate us to be persistent in our efforts to come to wholeheartedly despise our sins and grow in perfect love of Him, but from our weakness and lack of discipline, most of the time, God alone simply isn’t enough. And this we prove over and over again, as once the slightest temptation/distraction comes along all of the good changes we were making or hoping to make somehow become habits or thoughts of the past and we settle back into our comfort zone…or we keep the same habits when change–growth towards the crown–is very much needed to have a real hope for Eternal Life. Oh, we need help! But so tragically, we live in a time of great darkness with so few willing to help those who want to peruse the crown and even fewer who are seeking the crown themselves and know the Way. Oh, how many are misguided by the well intentioned but incorrect guidance of others. We must be careful.
Who do you know who is seeking the crown of Life with the intensity of an Olympian…anyone? Is there anyone who can help those who truly want to become a saint, who really want Eternal Life, and coach them properly? Oh, they are few. The saints have spoken about this terrible reality. This actuality can be enough to send anyone into great despair. But don’t fall for the devils trap. Horribly, from the sins of others not being there to help us, the path might be even harder to find, especially if we live in the world and aren’t a religious (priest, sister, brother, monk, etc).. But still, God will give us what we need. There are a few out there who can provide adequate support…so pray and pray, and if God wills–truly relenting to what He desires–He will provide all we need to be saved. God wants us in Heaven; He will supply us, who never quit learning and pursuing Him, with a way. BELIEVE! Therefore, don’t crumble at the huge task ahead but trust in Him to help us obtain the faith we need to accept His saving grace.
Fantastic Spiritual Guidance
Now, I want to tell you about the greatest spiritual coach out there. There is one I want to recommend above all else. He is absolutely wonderful but don’t expect him to go easy on you; he is very demanding…but what Olympic coach isn’t. However, he is most patient with our failures, so encouraging and won’t become frustrated with us when we just don’t seem to learn. He will motivate, guide and discipline us correctly and at the pace that is best for us. I wouldn’t have grown in holiness and still be growing in holiness and learning and learning if it wasn’t for this most incredible coach. I am so blessing! And I want everyone to have this incredible blessing too. This coach is…Jesus Himself. Yes, I did just say how God alone simply isn’t enough for most. Well, He isn’t enough most of the time, because we don’t know how to properly access His incredible coaching skills and we go astray thinking we are follow Christ but we are being deceived. Sure, it would be great if we had the greatest Olympic coach–Jesus–and then another side coach (an actual person) like practically every Olympic athlete has. That would surely keep us from going astray and following what we think is Jesus’ will, but isn’t, and also provide us with the obedience to another (which is valued above all) that we diffidently need. But if God doesn’t will that…Jesus is most certainly enough.
This analogy of how to peruse the Olympic gold is the most perfect comparison I can make with what a true saint does to obtain the crown of Life. There can’t be a better comparison; St. Paul knew what he was talking about when he said, “Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified ” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).
If you have never had the blessing of seeing how a young child trains for the gold and grows into a true athlete of perfection in their sport, then it would benefit anyone to watch a movie or read a book about the life/training of a real Olympic athlete. It is an amazing process that produces extremely successful results and is almost exactly what Jesus, our coach, intends to do with us. We will start little and grow and grow into perfection if we allow God to transform us. If we only did half of what these Olympic athletes discipline themselves to do, we would rise to great holiness. Now us Christians, who want Heaven, shouldn’t spend our time seeking a crown that withers and fades but a crown that will last for Eternity. We only have one life are we are supposed to be living it for Heaven.
I’m familiar with the training of Olympic hopeful figure skaters…and have watched the very young, not even knowing how to skate, children grow incredibly, with the proper discipline and training, into the most beautiful of skaters. And just like with any inexperienced athlete, who knew nothing and relied on their coach for everything, we too don’t even need to know how to pray well or how to become a saint either. Our coach, Jesus, will guide us perfectly, if we really want it and we BELIEVE Jesus can do this for us. I tell you, no Olympian obtains the gold unless they have faith that they can do it. With God we can. Even if we are greatly lacking in holiness, we must have faith and trust in God that He can bring us to the saving faith we need.
Get startedNow, don’t think since we might be elderly or have any problem, have little energy or are sick, we can’t obtain salvation. That simply isn’t true at all. The Olympic training God wants from us is truly catered to our abilities. All God wants is our best. He wants us to learn how to give Him our hearts and be willing to suffer out of love for Him…that is more than acceptable to Him than any half-hearted amazing works. Saints have been made who were bed ridden. Our physical capabilities have nothing to do with growing in athletic holiness. But that does’t mean, if we aren’t as energetic or healthy as others that we can make every excuse in the world to not change (not work towards follow God’s will and loving Him perfectly). I promise you, if we love God, we will change but everyone’s change will be different and at different rates. But if our rate is too slow from a weak faith, we simply won’t obtain a saving faith from our lack of effort in seeking God’s grace (help) with an open heart willing to bear the cross. To get started there are a few things we must understand. In the Word, God has given us many high lofty goals He wants us to obtain. We need to make every one of them our goal too. True obedience to all of God’s Word is what God expects of us. We must really work to obey God perfectly…not make excuses why we can’t but little by little work towards perfect obedience. The manipulating devil, will try to trick us into justifying why we can’t obey, but we can. We simply have to start at the beginning and work our way towards the goals God has given to us just like we would if we were wanting to achieve any high lofty worldly goal. If we think any of the goals God has established for us aren’t obtainable we have been deceived. God doesn’t ask us to do things we can’t. Sure our mortal bodies have its limits, but we can most certainly can obey. “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Believe! Careful analysis of God’s Word will show us all of the goals God has made for us to obtain a happy life and eternity. He has a main goal and several foundational goals underneath that that which all develop into the main goal. If we love God and believe following Him is the Way, we will look at God’s goals–His words and example–and develop a real plan on how to obtain them just like with any other important endeavor we would undertake. There are a billion analogies I can make to help us understand how to achieve a great goal of our life that of obtaining a saving faith. Like I said, St. Paul assimilates this great effort we need to put forth to that of what an Olympic athlete would do with the training and discipline they choose. We need top emulate their effort. That is why having a coach motivating and inspiring us is so important. I will also associate this goal of seeking a saving faith–striving for perfection–to that of an Olympic athlete since that is the effort we need to place in seeking our salvation.
God’s Goal for All Souls is PERFECTION–not able to chose sin. He has told us to become like Him. St. Paul has clearly described that was his goal. “It is not that I have already taken hold of it [perfection] or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus]” (Philippians 3:12). That is every athletes goal too…perfection. They want to perfectly perform every skill they are working seeking to obtain the award (the gold). They might not master the skill the first time they attempt it, but they know if they seek proper coaching and practice, revising their efforts to improve until they have success; they will grow closer and closer to that goal. We need to do the same. Perfection is possible. We need to believe God can make us perfect. Paul did. God most certainly doesn’t want us to continue to sin against Him as that is what the entire Word, which is our directions away from sin (Hell) and towards obedience to God (Heaven) instructs us to become: perfect. “Sin no more” (John 8:11); “Be perfect” (Matthew 5:48); “Stop sinning” (1 Corinthians 15:34); “Making holiness perfect in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1)…etc. God has shown us in His Word and by His perfect example how to do this. If we follow Him correctly perfection will result from our efforts–just like with St. Paul, who at the end of his life declared, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). He could have never claimed to have won the crown if he was still sinning for as long as there is sin, we can still loose what we desire. Furthermore–since St. Paul can’t read his own soul, he would have never made such a clam to have won the crown, unless God blessed Him with a special grace to know he can no longer choose sin any more like Our Lord did with St. Therese of Lisieux. In her diary she clearly told us of when she realized Our Lord’s perfect love was constantly consuming her making her perfect (unable to choose sin) as she said, “From that day I have been penetrated and surrounded with love. Every moment this Merciful Love renews me and purifies me, leaving in my soul no trace of sin.” Of course, to obtain salvation we don’t need to grow completely into perfection, but that needs to be our goal. How can we honestly tell God we love Him it it isn’t? If we love God we most certainly will give all of our efforts to try just like the saint before us to stop offending God. How can we even claim to love God if we won’t even work to obey Him? “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26) and if we learn how to obtain God’s grace, we too can become one of the “few.” To obtain salvation–a saving faith–friendship with God, we need work towards achieving perfection which is done by seeking to obey the entire word. That is done by making God’s goals, our goals. Perfection is found by seeking to live the entire Word perfectly, and making God’s goals our goals:
- “Pray without ceasing [nonstop]” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- “Do everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
- “Love one another [everyone]” (John 13:34)
- in willing to become a saint: “If any man will come after Me”;
- in self-denial: “Let him deny himself”;
- in suffering: “Let him take up his cross”;
- in doing: “Let Him follow Me [obey my Word/example].””
The Steps to Take to Obtain a Saving Faith
If we finally have a true desire or even some desire to begin seeking a saving faith, there are specific steps one would take to work towards that goal.
Well to even get started and to make progress towards the goal, we need much grace (help) from God. (To learn how to obtain God’s grace-help click link at the bottom of this article.) To obtain God’s grace we need to do what is necessary or what we can to obtain it.
If someone were to come to me and say, “I have cancer and only have about a year to live” because they would like me to help them obtain a saving faith, since having someone (other than God) to be accountable towards, motivate and guide us is most effective. I would give them different guidance than I would to someone who is in the process of dying and of course greatly different direction than I would to someone who wants to repent and change but doesn’t have the blessing of knowing their hour. All will receive different direction since all of us are at a different step in this climb we need to make to the Summit of the Mount (saving faith with Christ). However, what a privilege it is to be able to guide someone to Life, don’t turn away from the call if we know the Way or neglect to provide someone with information of the Way so God can use us in some way for the salvation of souls.
“Whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).
Even though everyone will be guided differently, the goal for all is the same: to gain a true disgust for sin and a great burning love for God so we can accept His saving mercy and not reject it from still desiring sin. We will all learn how to let go of our desires–our feelings–and allow God to guide us to His will since much of the time our desires are all sinful. Sure some times God will give us holy desires, but we will need to desire the spirits carefully since much of the time our desires are quite self serving. It is by learning how to relent our will and fully embrace His that we can truly trust in His mercy to save us. We will learn what real love is and how we are called to live it and how to truly see our misery so we can obtain the true sorrow that is necessary to be saved. This won’t be easy as the saints have clearly told us obtaining a saving faith is for the few since most won’t do what is necessary to obtain it as St. John of the Cross explains, “is that, in this marvelous work which God Himself begins, so many are weak, shrinking from trouble, and unwilling to endure the least discomfort or mortification, or to labour with constant patience. Hence it is that God, not finding them diligent in cultivating the graces He has given them when He began to try them, proceeds no further with their purification, neither does He lift them up out of the dust of the earth, because it required greater courage and resolution for this than they possessed.” To obtain a saving faith takes a great desire to suffer (live God’s will); we must obtain the grace to have courage to do what is necessary get there. But if we want–really want–a saving faith, God will see to it that we obtain it.
Imminent Danger of Death
If we are in the process of dying (moments before death), and we want to have real hope that God’s mercy will save us there are certain things we must do if at all possible:
- Call a priest seeking the sacraments of the Last Rites (request to receive ALL of the rights for all the grace that God has to provided us to help move our souls into a saving faith at the moment of death)
- Pray fervently, then deeply examine our conscience, knowing our eternal life depends upon us coming to a state of true sorrow for every sin. Go to God looking to see our great sinfulness, in all aspects of our life. Ask God to show us exactly how we didn’t spend our life to know, serve or love God. Ask Him to show us we offended Him by not honestly loving/obeying Him in all facets of our life. Look for how we didn’t honestly seek to stop every sin and ignored many of His commands; look for how we didn’t truly work to become a saints nor sacrifice the pleasures of the world for the Way of the cross, as God has command of us. That way we can hopefully see how grievously we offended Our Beloved Creator with the hopes to gain great guilt that can lead to the humility needed to move our spirit into true sorrow for all of our sins.
- Seek to gain true contrition (plead to God, His Mother and the saint, for grace to gain perfect sorrow for our life time of offences against our Creator who gave us our life to live for Him alone and for a real understanding of how we greatly failed to do that.)
- Receive the sacrament of reconciliation (confession), confessing all sins we can think of especially our serious sins, having great sorrow not just for our serious sins but for every last little venial sin too which also greatly offended God, hoping for forgiveness–never presuming however we have received it, since we can’t read the contrition of our hearts it know if it is true.
- Receive the sacrament of the sick (anointing of the sick) asking for more mercy to move our souls into the state of true (perfect) contrition.
- Receive the sacrament of Holy Communion call out for even more mercy, to help move your soul into perfect contrition for your sins so we can unite with God and accept God’s saving mercy at the moment of death.
- Continue to beg God to teach us where we have gone wrong, to show us the sins we love and give us a heart so full of sorrow for every one of our sins that if we could live, we would truly do all we can to never commit them again. Continue pray to the saints, praying devotions, calling upon the Blessed Mother for Her powerful prayers, imploring God for a greater understanding of sin and its consequences (injury to us and God) so we can come to gain a horror for sin, knowing our great abandonment of loving/following Christ, by neglecting to truly life our life as we were called to live.Meditate on the Passion of Christ–the anguish He chose in order to love us–and what we should have done in our life to love Him in return. We need to seek a sorrow so great, that if God were to give us another chance to live we would honestly surrender perusing the pleasures/successes of the world and truly go with great courage and give it all up for treasure in Heaven. We would wholeheartedly leave the world and its incitements to really follow Christ by way of the cross (self-denial and sacrifice), working to stop every one of our sins seeking to spend all of our moments in life to know, love and serve God working for the salvation of souls, for the reward of Eternal Life because we now can’t bear offending our Beloved Lord again by even the smallest sin. Then with our new faith grounded on fear of the Lord (hatred of sin and its consequences), we can have real hope believing God’s mercy can save us since we are no longer rejecting it from desiring sin instead of Him.
If we are sick for longer than expected yet death is still imminent, the Last Rites can be repeated. If we can’t get a hold of a priest ask to receive the sacraments from God by the desires of our heart, ask our family and church to pray for us especially the Divine Mercy, and hopefully we will open up our souls to receive enough grace to move us from death to Life. If we are already so magnificently blessed to be continuously in the state of grace, from the sacraments and the prayers of other we could be so wonderfully moved to love God so deeply that we could atone for all of our sins and become a saint (go strait into Heaven upon our death).
St. Alphonosus’ “Way to Salvation and Perfection” and “Way to Salvation” are also good reads for anyone wanting to avoid eternal suffering.
Don’t Know Our Hour
What Are Our Sins?
Anything at all that we choose to do that isn’t for the purpose to know, serve or love God is a sin. This is a reality we must accept if we desire salvation. We can’t continue to cover our sins so we can stay in them or all will be lost. Literally, all we do must be for His honor and glory and to follow Him, or we are choosing sin–choosing to offend Our Creator. Desiring to stay in any sinfully way is a horrible desire even if it is a slight offence. If we have no desire to stop our imperfect way of life, we love sin over God and choose sin instead of God’s sanctifying grace. All we do must be done for the love of God. Therefore, we must look into our intentions to see why we do what we do, so we don’t blindly continue to desire sin and not God’s love, so we can accept His saving grace and Live. What is keeping us from our Love (God)? If we look into our thoughts we will clearly see what we are thinking about–what we are longing for–what we desire, and if it isn’t God those are the sins that are keeping us from truly loving God. Our minds are always thinking, and they are supposed to be contemplating God and His Heavenly will for us at all moments. Changing our life and removing what is distracting–separating–us from God needs to be our life’s goal. It is for those with a saving faith.
“God is to be loved above all things, and whatever separates us from God is therefore to be hated above all things” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Counsel of Trent).
We were given our life to live for God alone, to love Him, not for the vast ray of worldly pleasures we have made part of our lives that are opposed to growing in holiness. If we don’t gain knowledge of our sinfulness–gain humility–we will never gain knowledge of the Way. The evil one has tricked us and prided us so we don’t see our sinfulness yet we are drowning in sin and living for countless aspirations and desires of this world that aren’t God’s will for us. All of those desires that we have and things we choose to do that aren’t to love God alone–unless we repent and change–will cause our eternal doom. Truly, if we follow the world we are doomed. A good rule of thumb is, if everyone is doing something, we should run the other way, since “the world is under the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).
It is true, we seek bounds of things that aren’t to know serve or love God, and sadly most of us are completely unaware of our misery, because we cover our sins. Yet, we need to become firmly resolved to stop all our sins if we desire Life. Now, I’m not saying in one day to instantly stop partaking in all worldly things we have made our comforts and pleasures–the things we do to pamper our bodies–and follow God properly through the cross. It would be great if we could surrender all instantly for the love of God, but unless we have been impacted with God’s grace in a such an amazing way, we simply can’t successfully let go of the world that we love so much and correctly follow Our Lord. If we lost all of our joys in this world, without much grace, we would be so sad, lonely and in despair since we have made those things our joys and if we don’t have God (enough of a relationship with God) or the things of this world, we will have nothing. Truly, if we, who don’t have much grace, loosing all of our attachments, or even many of our attachments, too quickly won’t last once a sizable temptation comes along. We will be right back where we started from or have fallen even further back. We need God’s strength/love (grace) to walk correctly towards the path of Life…we can only do so much on our own, and it will take time. If we don’t have a close relationship with God to fill our need, truly we would have no joy at all if we lost all of the pleasures of this world. Only by having much grace and love of God–being with much faith–could God’s love replace all of the devil’s temporary joy all of those “things” brings us. Unless we have receive bounds of grace or can run to the support of a religious live (that is striving to truly live the faith and seeking all of its members to become saints), we need to slowly remove our loves of this world so to obtain much the grace needed to begin to climb the mount to Heaven.
If we had a close relationship with God, we would never want to do any of the nonsense in this world if we could be with God instead. Why watch a movie, if we can pray? Why go out with friends, if we can pray? Why indulge in fine dining, if we can suffer for the love of God? Why Oh, when we have a wonderful relationship with God truly loving Him is easy. Giving up the world isn’t a challenge or burden any longer it is a joy. However, because of our lack of knowing God and His real love, it is hard to let go of the world since we love it more than Him. But we need to modify our life little by little and then one day we will obtain a saving faith that truly loves God above all.
Lets look at what we really do in life. Why do we seek to get a job: so we can obtain money. And that can be fine. But we have to watch out; the devil is in the details. If we use our money strictly so we can better know, serve and love God, we are doing well. But sadly we don’t do that. We mainly seek money to get ourselves more things…not so we can use those things to know, serve and love God, but so we can have more pleasure, comfort, popularity, power, and fun. We want all the “good things” we see in the world for personal gain; we want the “fun experiences” to entertain us…but that isn’t loving God but ourselves. All of this “fellowship” (fun with each other) we claim we need is just justification for us to have a good time with friends using the world and all of its distractions from God for our personal entertainment. Sure in the beginning of our faith, when we have little faith, we need friends and the best ones we can find so to not be led deeper into the path of doom, since we don’t have a true relationship with God. However, that truly isn’t the goal. If we stay there we die. Please understand, when we find a saving relationship with God, He is more than enough. We won’t want anything but God. Most saints had no close friends so to not become attached to them. Only a select few chose to have a close friend who was a great help for them to surrender all their life to know, serve and love God. None of the saints had friends to just talk about nonsense, do fruitless things with or to run to for counsel every time something went wrong instead of God. God was their comforter and guide. Much of the time our “friends” don’t in any way help us to know, serve and love God…many of them advise us wrongly and keep us from Him.
Much of the time what we think is the “good” things in life are far from “good.” If what we choose to do isn’t helping us love God like watching tv/sports, reading or watching some nonsense article or video on the wed, dining out, etc.,it is keeping us from loving God and finding the path of Life. The “good things” in God’s eyes are sacrifice, suffering and truly following Him. The CROSS is the Way. “If anyone would come after me [to Heaven], let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). But that way of life, the “message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). We must grow in faith to where everything is done for Our Lord to fulfill His will in order to obtain a faith that saves. “Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). That is obedience to the Word. And when we have a saving faith, we have learned how to do just that.
“[I tell you this] so that those who hear it may fear God’s judgment…[This damned bishop speaks of his condemnation] I preferred to handle the divine sacraments of the altar for the sake of my worldly reputation rather than to apply myself to everyday cares [of amending my ways/living the faith]. Inasmuch as my secrets were unknown to men but known to God, I grew a great deal in presumption and in that way added to the heavy justice of my terrible condemnation…
I followed the promptings of nature through self-indulgence and did not stand firm in self-restraint [didn’t love or chose the cross]…
I preferred to do acts of mercy for the sake of human favor rather than acts of justice for the glory and love of God [loved to please men…not God]…
I did not preach God’s words out of love for God nor did I like doing the things I told others to do [was a hypocrite]…
I absolved the people who turned to me with contrition, but I myself liked doing the things that they lamented through their penance and rejected through their tears [loved sin]…
I preached about purity of life and made others better, I made myself worse [loved immorality]…
I laid down precepts for others but was myself unwilling to lift a finger to do those very things [was lazy]…
Where I saw others making progress [towards becoming a saint], that is where I failed and wasted away, since I preferred to add a load to my already committed sins than to lessen my load of sins by making reparation…”
–Jesus to St. Bridget of Sweden
All of the wonderful books we have that are written by the saints to guide us to perfection, we should be following. We must want to obtain perfect union with God on earth like some of the saints have achieved. If we don’t want that and aren’t willing to do what is necessary to seek to obtain that, we won’t ever obtain it, on earth or in the after life. If we don’t want to strive to “be perfect as our heaven father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), we want to continue to offend Our Lord and stay as sinners from our still love (desire) for sin. Of course, we don’t need to obtain (spiritual) perfection upon earth to be saved, but we must desire to obtain it, be sincerely working to obtain it and be truly sorry when we have failed. This is how we are saved…from our true desire to love God perfectly and true contrition when we don’t. And this desire, to become a perfect saint, can’t just be a passing thought…a lie we tell our selves so to pretend like we are living the faith and saved. No, that desire must be true and proven in our actions as we are little by little modifying our life daily to obey the guidance the Word, the Church and the saints provide to teach us the Way.
If we don’t obtain a continuous saving faith during our time on earth, we hope to at least obtain true sorrow for all of our sins at the moment of our death. The minimum requirement of salvation is to obtain true sorrow for all of our sins, when our hour comes right before judgement, so to embrace God’s saving mercy. It is possible. God in His great mercy gives everyone an opportunity to repent with a truly contrite heart at that moment of death so to accept His saving grace and live. However, most never accept God’s grace to have true sorrow, and how they live–outside of saving grace–is tragically how one dies. Yes, tragically, most, even at our last hour, never see or accept God’s actual grace in order to grow in faith to embrace God’s saving grace (love) instead of our sins. Horribly our love for sin is so strong we simply can’t change and choose God.
Catechism shows us the Way
I was teaching my children their Catechism (teachings of the faith) and decided to pull out an old Baltimore Catechism Book from 1962 and in the very first chapter, was this nice picture that you see above (that was redrawn), which you can clearly see how to find Eternal Life. It is so simple and yet truly depicts the reality of our life very clearly. Why aren’t we following it? We live life as if we don’t really have to live the faith or we have convinced ourselves we don’t really love other things over God, but how very untrue that is. Is our mind continuously on how we can love God more perfectly or all of the other things in this world? Truly where our mind is, is where our heart is. The saints have instructed us and the Mother of God has warned us “think about nothing [except how to know, serve and love God], desire nothing but your God and Creator” (Blessed Mother to St. Bridget of Sweden). Do we take them seriously? Or do we think it is impossible, from a lack of understanding, so we don’t bother to really try. Truly, are we really living the faith?
Lets, honestly look into our life and not think just because someone else is committing greater sins than we are, we are just fine. Loving–being complacent–with one small sin rejects eternal life. Honestly, we love money and getting more of it and thinking about what we would buy if we had more. We might not have much, but we wish we did. Oh the nicer car we could have, the better trip we could go on, the nicer clothes and things we could get, etc. We love pleasure of all sorts, like how we can’t wait for that better meal, more sexual gratification, that greater time out entertaining with friends, the next awesome show, or that relaxing vacation, etc. Perhaps we living for the “high” of seeing others happy, loving how we make others smile, priding ourselves on our “goodness”? Maybe we love fame, being noticed as successful, pretty, desirable, masculine, holy, talented, friendly, important and want much praise and approval to feel good about ourselves. Oh, power. We want things to go the way we want and don’t tolerate others differences and sinfulness. We are angered at the correction from others and upset when others wrongfully judge us. We are jealous when others do seemingly better than we do. Sadly, we want to control life, people and things so everything goes the way we want. We horribly gossip about others, and pretend we are the good guys to boost our pride. We don’t want to submit our will for anothers nor relent our desires for what God allows (His Will) especially when He allows us to bear a cross as we complain, worry or become angry wishing we had a comfortable no problem life. We reject the cross. We hate suffering. This is the sad truth of our life. Yet, it is only by giving our entire life to Love of God, truly following Christ’s example, the way of the cross, that we can find the way to salvation. But we have fallen for the devils trap and think we can love God a little–that we are “good” enough–and can still desire some of those things of this world and still have a saving faith. We can’t.
Sadly, we willfully choose things that simply aren’t to know, serve and love God–we willfully choose sin–and tragically have no firm resolve to stop and still somehow believe we will still be saved. But that just isn’t true. We must look into our hearts to SEE where we are lacking perfection and change. Just because we don’t murder or rob does’t mean we are without great need for change. We simply have to see how we have fallen for the devil’s lie and justify our desire for bounds of things instead of God as we say, “I don’t ‘love’ those things more than God.” Yet, the sincerity of our thoughts is proven in our actions. And our actions most certainly prove we do love the world over God. Sadly, we choose to spend our time with the world, not God.
“The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting [eventually becoming] justification [completely forgiven] in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high” (CCC #1989).
The Church doesn’t teach we are all walking around saved the moment we are baptized, since we loose that saving grace the moment we desire, with full knowledge, our first sin and that is pretty much everyone one at the moment we gain full knowledge of right from wrong. We need to grow in faith towards God and away from sin. We have to GROW towards a saving faith. And this takes time and is hard to do for most.
Those with a saving faith have learned how to remove those fruitless things we do that don’t benefit our neighbor and have replaced them with Godly ones. “No one should seek his own advantage, but that of his neighbor” (1 Corinthians 10:24). Those who truly love God don’t want to waste a moment outside of doing all for the honor and glory of God and the salvation of souls, and they love it. Serving God is now their joy. They fully understand every moment that isn’t for God is for the devil. There are only two paths, one that leads to Heaven and one that doesn’t. We are either doing all for God or we are not. Those with a saving faith, literally don’t want to sin at all, not in their “free time” or during work, they don’t want to do anything out of selfishness, only out of love for God through their neighbor, since all sin offends God who they seek to love with all of their heart. How can anyone truly love God and still be OK with sinning at all? They can’t.
Nobody with a saving faith can say they believe in Christ, with a saving faith, and not work wholeheartedly to follow Christ, who they claim to believe in as “the Way” (John 14:6). As a result, those with a true belief in God have removed sin after sin, have much kindness and love for all of God’s children no matter how others treat them, and have many good works being done only for His honor and Glory wanting no praise for themselves. This is especially hard since we live in a world that looks to feel loved and valued by the acclaim and consolations of others, and we unknowingly crave it. We might not realize it, but we love to tell others of our accomplishments for praise and tell others of our suffering and hard work we had to do for their consolations. We crave self-glory and pity. Yet, for someone to gain a saving faith, we have to decided we are going to leave those sinful things behind and strive to perfectly love God by running to our loving Father over and over again for the strength (grace) needed so to learn how to stop saying we are going to change, but actually obtain the faith needed to change and detest each and every sin we commit.
God spends our lives loving us by healing us, helping us and soothing our worries all in an effort to move us to see His love so we will want to stop hurting Him by our sins. He even gives us great consequences of our sins–signs of our sinfulness–so we can see the real choices we are making and their consequences so we will pick good and not evil. God wants us to desire to become saints, not to remain in our sinful ways. He spends our lives trying to motive us to seek true holiness. Tragically, most will only go so far, and never truly love Him in return. However, those who want a saving faith, who have seen God’s tremendous love or been convinced of the eternal suffering in Hell awaits them if they don’t change, have decided to seek to really love God in return. They have decided to completely change their lives to follow Christ and work to become a saint–someone who doesn’t want to sin against their beloved Lord. They don’t see this as an impossible task not worth their effort but they make this obedience to God–working to truly love Him–their greatest effort. Little by little they work daily to perfectly obey God by making resolutions to stop their sins, from the greatest to the least. They work to remove all of the worldly pleasures that are keeping them from knowing, serving and loving God. As they remove more and more sin, and more and more attachments by running to God for more and more grace to succeed in stopping their sins, the habitual sins they used to commit (love) are now gone, and they have grown in wonderful love of God. Finally, they have true contrition, true sorrow for all of their sins and can’t bear offending God, whom they now have grown to truly love, by a single sin. From God’s mercy (helping grace), and their persistent effort to sin no more, they have a continuous saving faith and can now accept (not reject) God’s saving mercy. Just Wonderful!
“[May] contrition of my sins be permanent, love of the world be dead within me, my patience preserving, [and] my penance fruitful” –St. Bridget of Sweden
But sadly, most don’t truly seek a saving faith. They will give God some of their life, thinking that is enough while they stay clinging on to some of their sins. They won’t look to know their sins and will stay blind to many sins they love. They simply won’t know the way without growing in knowledge of their misery; “by self-knowledge, dissipates the cloud of self-love [pride], and in no other way can he learn” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Sienna). Please understand, we can ask God for forgiveness, but how can we expect to receive it if we still don’t want to know our sins nor stop sinning. Loving–not resolving to amend–just one sin rejects salvation. We must hate all of our sins, not desire a single one to not reject His saving grace. Where is our true love for God if we don’t desire to stop all of our sins? Salvation is in the forgiveness of our sins. This is what salvation is all about: God’s mercy, His help that He gives us our entire lives, as He tries to move us towards sincerely not wanting to sin so we can accept His forgiveness and spend eternity in Heaven. Yet, so many people have been showered with God’s love throughout their entire life and still tragically haven’t let go of some of their sins to truly love Him in return. And even though some have come far in their faith from practically no faith at all, horribly they still never make it to a true saving faith from their still love for sin at the hour of their death.
Those who have converted enough and are now with a saving faith, who are in a constant state of grace, love God above all, and desire nothing but God. They prove their saving faith by their actions, as they are constantly removing sin and living in wonderful peace. If we aren’t focused on gaining true knowledge of our sinfulness so to stop our offences against God and striving to live for His will only, by seeking His grace to remove our transgressions and attachments, we haven’t found the Way yet. Please don’t allow the evil one to deceive you. The saints say we have 1000’s of sins and when we finally obtain a saving faith, the Word says we will have at least seven sins a day. Therefore, if we think we hardly sin, we are still suffering from much blindness and lack understanding of what sin really is. But as with everything there are always extremes to each mind set we should have, and we need to be careful not to fall into either side of the pendulum. We shouldn’t be blind to our sinfulness but we shouldn’t be preconsumed with our misery either. We need to find the happy medium that keeps us working to sin no more but trusting peacefully in God’s mercy to see that it happens.
There is so much to look forward to when we do decide to seek a saving faith. Little by little we will be growing in peace and happiness. Those with a saving faith from their great detest of sin and great trust in God, live in magnificent peace. It is just wonderful to never crave anything but our Creator. We won’t ever be upset again when our friends or children don’t call us; we will be content with God. We won’t ever despair when our neighbor or spouse treats us badly; we will love our crosses. We won’t fret when we are running late or sick; we will delight in what God wills and be pleased to learn and grow from our struggles. Oh, nothing will cause us to despair. Sure, this is very hard to do since we desire countless sins, things and comforts. But if we want a saving faith and to experience God’s wonderful peace during our time on earth, we must change and obtain enough grace, to sincerely desire nothing but to know, serve and love God and trust wonderfully in all that He allows since all is allowed to lead us to Heaven. Desiring our will in any way, rejects His saving mercy. Truly, we can’t want anything but God’s will, nothing–not a moment of entertainment, not a complement/consolation from a friend, not a yummy meal for our self-gratification, not a nicer car or better job for self-glory–we can’t want anything that doesn’t help us to know, serve and love God more perfectly. Wanting to do anything, at any moment, no matter how big or small, that isn’t for God’s glory, that isn’t to know, serve and love God, that it isn’t holy, is a sin. And if we don’t seek to stop that sin we choose eternal suffering. Desire sin=desire death. We must want to stop all sin. It isn’t necessarily the specific sin that will kill us–unless it is mortal in nature–but rather our desire for sin that will. Desiring to sin (mortal or venial sin) is a mortal desire. We must hate all sin. Boy does this take much grace to learn how to do this, and the devil has sure been very successful at blinding us to this requirement of salvation, but God is waiting to help us. Therefore, if we want salvation, we need to seek God’s mercy (His helping grace) to teach us His blessed ways so we can do what is necessary to hate our sins and love God.
“For human beings this [obtaining Heaven] is impossible, but for God [and His incredible helping mercy] all things are possible [go to Him, He is waiting]” (Matthew 19:26).
How to get started
There are many things we can do to work towards a saving faith. Please visit www.LiftingOurValues.com to learn more. However, here is one thing we can do to know where to get started in finding a saving faith, we can look at our crosses (suffering/challenges). Those with a saving faith also have come to love their crosses (suffering). Anger/complaining/worrying/frustration is a thing of the past for those with a saving faith as they have learned the value of the cross and love to suffer for Christ and the salvation of souls. We can’t say we desire God and not desire His will. Whatever God allows to happen is His will. We can think we know best, and insist what has happened is disaster. But what God allows is what is best for our souls. It might not be the greatest good and something evil, but God will transform any bad into good for those who truly trust in Him. We must love our crosses and all. Those with a saving faith, know God is teaching and guiding them in what they need to do and change through each moment in life so they can work towards obtaining salvation and perfection. They truly trust in Jesus and all that He allows to happen in their life knowing it is all good and perfect for them. As a result, they live in wonderful peace.
How can we say we trust in God and not trust in all that He allows. That isn’t a true belief in God. To have a saving faith, we must trust in God and not cry and fret over things that seem bad, even our sins (of course we can still cry from contrition over our sins, but not in despair), but rather we need to know ALL is “God’s blessed will” for us to learn and grow towards true holiness. God will allow us to fall, and then teach us from that fall, if we listen, how to not fall again. If we truly trust, with a saving faith, we will have a wonderful trusting peace in our thoughts and actions, especially during our great trials in life (tests to see if our faith is true). How can we honestly claim we trust in God when things go as we like, but live in anger or despair when things go seemingly wrong? That isn’t a faith that can save. So many people claim trust in God, but our trust is only maintained when God’s will seems to be in line with own will. Once we get sick, a natural disaster comes alone, someone dies, we lose our job, our children, neighbor or spouse treats us poorly, our computer crashes, we can’t pay our bills, oh, there are so many things that can go disarray, yet, we are all in distorts. We run to God crying out for help in great anger or despair…what happened to our trust? Where is our peace? Oh it isn’t there because our trust was never true in the first place, as our untrusting behaviors have proven. That tricky devil will have us believing we are with a true faith since we want a true faith when our real faith (the faith God reads) is far from it. These moments outside of peace are gifts from God to us, so we can see our great lack of faith, and run to Him for the grace to repent and change. We can run to Him to give us peace, and most of the time He will. But God wants us to see His constant love for us, so we can stop lacking faith, and grow in great faith and trust in Him. That way we can never be without wonderful, perfect peace. We must trust in God to bring us to salvation, through our crosses, by teaching, guiding and atoning our sins along the way. Without true trust, we reject His saving mercy and are lost forever.
To have a saving faith we must see our misery (great sinfulness), gain a true disgust for ourselves (our sinful self) and know how we have failed to sincerely follow Christ, realize that we are nothing but horrid sinners (have humility) and then see the loving arm of God that is there waiting to help and guild us to become the children He designed us to be, by working as hard as we can to learn how to love God perfectly. Once we do finally decide to seek a real saving faith, we need to stay vigilant and consistent in our efforts and then trust in God’s mercy to transform us into a faith that saves. We must trust that He wants us in Heaven and even when things seem impossible, like we will never change, if we persist and constantly look for ways to change and more grace, we will. God will see to it. As you can see, the true faith it takes to accept God’s saving mercy is much more than simply claiming to be a Christian. If we wish to be saved by our words, our hearts must believe fully in Jesus as the Way to Heaven, and we prove our faith by our actions, while having true contrition for our sins when we fail because we can’t bear offending God whom we now truly love. That is the true belief that saves. That is a lot, but anything less still rejects God’s saving mercy and chooses Hell by our still love for sin.
How the devil steals souls
There are two ways the devil tries to steal souls of those who believe in Christ as Lord and want salvation. One of the ways is that He tries to get us to despair: thinking God will never forgive me, that there is no hope for me since I messed us so greatly, or that the path to Heaven is too hard that I simply can’t do what is needed to get there, so we won’t seek and continue to seek God’s transforming mercy to bring us to Life. The other way the evil one deceives us so to own our souls, which is most common and where people are first in our need for conversion, is by presumption: thinking we are saved when we aren’t. The evil one causes us to think we are already love God enough, and that eternal death isn’t really possible for us. That way we won’t concern our selves with salvation and never sincerely seek God’s actual (helping) grace, to rid our life of the sins (mortal or venial) that we still desire to commit which rejects saving mercy.
To over come dying from despair we need to gain understanding of God’s mercy and love. God’s
It is easier to guide someone towards a saving faith, who is dying because of despair, that is of course if they hate their sins–at least the ones they recognize as grievous–for the right reasons and desire to gain true sorrow for the rest of their offences, since they already have some humility and true detest for at least some of their sins. They mostly lack faith. However, to over come dying from presumption (thinking we are saved when we aren’t), which is why most of us die, is much more challenging. That is because those suffering from presumption not only lack a saving faith, which from presumption they will deny, but they also lack much humility. For people suffering from much presumption, for them to be able to hear and soften their hearts so they can be saved, those who have been blessed to be able to know the Way correctly, need to begin the momentous task of trying to educate them on the requirements of salvation, to help them understand why they are most likely not saved (in the state of grace) and sacrificing for their souls. This is especially challenging with those who think they are holy, yet still haven’t chosen to surrendered their everything to live 100% to know, serve and love God. The devil has them convinced they truly love God and are doing more than enough already to be saved. From being confused by their pride, they simply won’t listen because they whole heartedly believe they “trust in God’s mercy” when they are blinded to the fact they are still rejecting it. Or these souls will sorta hear what we are saying, but not believe enough that they are certainly lost. For if they did, they certainly would change. Even though those suffering from much presumption of salvation, might seem hopeless, they most certainly aren’t. Conversion is possible especially if it is combined with pray and sacrifice. Preaching alone won’t do much for these people because pride renders someone stiflingly blind. However, God sends great grace when we love like He loved and God loved with, fervent prayer, correct preaching and much sacrificing for the lost. God can hardly use someone who preaches without love, but when preaching is combined with true love–if someone is willing to suffer greatly for the love of another–wow!
To escape from the trap of presumptions, we need to first realize we aren’t automatically saved because of our “goodness” or God’s mercy, unless we are able to accept His mercy. And we can’t accept His mercy unless we become humble. After true humility is gained we must then obtain true trust in God so He can transform us into a saving faith. Have we ever wondered why the saints always spoke of their great misery when they seem to have so few sins? Well it is because they honestly felt absolutely horrible about their sins. They knew very well of their great injuries they were causing themselves and God by each transgression. They didn’t think of themselves as so holy they deserved salvation from their great holiness. If anything you heard of their great sinfulness. Those words of their misery weren’t just said, they were fully understood within their heart and their sins crushed them. We too need to become crushed by our offences…crushed so much we can’t bear committing another crime against Our Beloved Lord again.
more coming soon